Pompey future bright after trio’s emergence

Chad Field, left, on a pre-season run with Pompey. Picture: Colin Farmery
Chad Field, left, on a pre-season run with Pompey. Picture: Colin Farmery
  • Haunstrup, Nilsen and Field handed first-year pro deals
  • Trio join Conor Chaplin in Pompey elevation after signing contract in October 2014
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Paul Cook has recruited seven new players into Pompey’s squad.

As for Mikey Harris, his contribution has been the three other fresh faces in the first-team set-up.

That is now four out of seven of that group who have gone professional, which reflects a really good year for the Academy

Mikey Harris

Brandon Haunstrup, Chad Field and Snorre Nilsen have progressed from the Pompey Academy to become first-year professionals.

Throw in Conor Chaplin, who already signed such terms in October 2014, and that is four out of the seven second-year scholars kept on.

It’s a truly impressive retention rate for that age group, reflecting a club prepared to give youth an opportunity.

Most crucial of all, there are those connected with the Blues who are convinced the latest trio possess the ability to succeed in the game.

Their elevation is no box-ticking publicity stunt.

The production line continues at pace since Academy manager Mark Kelly replaced Andy Awford in the role a year ago.

And under-18 boss Harris believes the club should be proud of its latest intake reaching the next precarious level.

He said: ‘That is now four out of seven of that group who have gone professional, which reflects a really good year for the Academy.

‘I just hope the likes of Snorre and Chad, who are tall lads, can keep growing into their bodies at 20 or 21.

‘If they do, we could have some really strong footballing centre-halves.

‘Not everyone develops like Jack Whatmough at 17 or 18, sometimes it takes a little bit more time.

‘Let’s not forget Adam May, who as a first-year scholar made his debut last season and is another example of the crop we have coming through next.

‘The future is certainly bright and we are really happy with what is continuing to happen in the Academy.

‘Of the three we didn’t keep on, Lewis Gill is coming back from a broken foot and will be training with us to get fit for pre-season.

‘He has been with us for a long time and we want to look after him and help with his rehab so he can get fit for his next move.

‘I think he has the potential to go on and have a career in the game.

‘Fahad Rwakarambwe picked up a nasty knee injury with us at end of last season, requiring an operation, and we are also making sure we are doing the right thing by helping his rehab.

‘The third member of the group that has been released is James Granger.

‘Personally, I am really excited this season. Last summer I was new to the role, now I know what it entails and we will sit down with a new group of players looking to improve them, striving to make them better and providing a beneficial environment.’

In terms of those members of that intake still remaining at Fratton Park, Chaplin needs little introduction.

The youngster from Worthing made nine appearances for the Blues’s first-team last season, scoring at Morecambe in April.

The three to join him in becoming first-year professionals all featured regularly last term for the now defunct reserve team.

Former Academy skipper Haunstrup, who hails from Waterlooville, is and an attacking left-back.

Field, from Portchester, is a tall central defender.

As for the versatile Nilsen, he comes from Norway and is a central midfielder who has been converted to offer a central defensive option.

All three spent time on loan at Bognor Regis Town at the start of 2015, with Nilsen featuring the most with eight appearances.

Haunstrup played once, while Field was selected three times for the Rocks as Pompey attempted to get them precious first-team experience.

Now all three, who each signed one-year deals, will come under the watchful eye of Cook.

Harris added: ‘Brandon Haunstrup is someone who consistently performed very, very well throughout last season and is a real leader.

‘He is an attack-minded full-back and fulfils the criteria the new gaffer is looking for in that position, able to get up and down the flank.

‘The biggest thing I can say about Brandon is he is very strong mentally, approaches things very, very professionally and applies himself in training and matches.

‘The group looked up to him and he thoroughly deserves his contract.

‘He has operated for the Academy as a member of a back three and also wing-back but he is a left-back and one the manager will hopefully take to.

‘The lad played a lot of games in the reserves last season and more than held his own.

‘I am confident he can handle the psychological challenge stepping up and it is up to him to prove himself in pre-season.

‘Snorre Nilsen is another very athletic lad and he moved over from Norway when he was younger.

‘He has been here a number of years and coped well in terms of the mentality required to move to a foreign country at a young age, learning the language and building friendships.

‘Hopefully he will now cope with the demands of first-team football.

‘He’s a very versatile player, predominantly playing midfield and then we talked to him about playing in the centre of defence.

‘Being the lad he is he embraced that – and did very well there.

‘Snorre is a good footballer and another who fits the mould of what the gaffer is after – being a player who can pass the ball and is athletic.

‘He ended the season a completely different player to the one who started it, which shows the speed in which he developed.

‘If he can improve at that rate again during this campaign then it gives him a chance.

‘Finally, Chad Field is a footballing centre-half who has the ability to drive out from defence with the ball, which we encouraged him to do a lot last season.

‘He worked very hard in developing his aerial ability and managed to improve on that plenty – becoming extremely dominant in the air at youth level.

‘In League Two, a lot of teams will play forward early so it is key to deal with aerial duels.

‘Chad is another who is mobile, despite being a big lad at about 6ft 2in, is strong and has a good attitude.

‘The gaffer needs time to look at all three of them in pre-season.

‘But certainly our relationship with Bognor means players can be loaned out to them if required.

‘It’s a fantastic link-up between the clubs.

‘It provides our young players with first-team experience at a decent level for a team who play very, very good football, which is connected to our philosophy.’